Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file, Dulles–Herter Series

Memorandum by the President to the Secretary of State

top secret

Herewith I return your draft statement on the Bricker Amendment.1 In general, the paper expresses the point of view that I believe to be correct. However, I think that, as a persuasive paper, it is in error in emphasizing certain contentions. Not that I disagree violently with the validity of any single statement—but I doubt the usefulness or appropriateness of the argument that the Resolution would make the President the “servant” of the Congress. The probable effect of the Resolution would be, I think, to impede and stifle necessary action in the international field. This in itself is so serious that it is a better argument than that the Resolution would establish a new relationship between the two coordinate branches of Government.

But even if we concede that the traditional relationship would be adversely and seriously upset by approval of the Resolution, I should think that such an argument would be far better used in some place other than at a Congressional hearing. There may be individuals in Congress who are convinced that that body should have a much more influential position vis-à-vis the President, especially in the field of foreign relations. Consequently, this argument might be best used before public audiences.

At another place in your paper (page 172), there is the plain implication that, with a different kind of administration, it might be [Page 1806]a good thing to adopt such a Resolution. If this is true, then I am for the Resolution. If we must have some amendment to protect our government and our people from what might happen to them under the treaty-making powers of a stupid President and a partisan Senate, then the mere fact that we believe there is no danger during the next four years is not a good argument. All through your paper, you make the point that there exist many kinds of influence in and out of government to maintain necessary balances and protect our people. You show that this has been our history through good administrations and bad administrations for one hundred and sixty years. Then suddenly your paper says, “…what might, under other circumstances, be a desirable Constitutional Amendment.”3

As a consequence of the point just made, there should not be too much emphasis on the contention that the current one is a good administration. Of course, we pray and believe that we are seeking what is good for all the people, that we are not merely working for personal aggrandizement, and that this administration is one of good-will and intent. But the whole argument of your paper should be based upon principle and on Constitutional wisdom, rather than personal ability and wisdom of individuals.

[Here follow a brief reference by President Eisenhower to a CIA document of March 31, which dealt with an unidentified subject, and the President’s comment that he probably should soon make a speech on the question of peace.]

  1. Supra .
  2. This is a reference to the fourth paragraph from the end of the paper.
  3. Ellipsis in the source text.